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Shining a Light on the Darker Side of Solar Power

‘Quintessential Insider Deal’: Taxpayers Finance Family Ties of 2 Failing Green Companies

(This article first appeared in The Daily Signal on July 21, 2016.  Click here to read the oriiginal article)  Grassroots conservative activists who run a reboot of Ronald Reagan’s political action committee want to know why the government allows one failing company to buy another failing company while both get taxpayer subsidies.  They also want to know why corporate executives with friends in high places have not been subjected to more scrutiny after receiving a multimillion-dollar compensation package at a time when their company remains heavily subsidized at taxpayer expense.  “This is the quintessential insider deal,” one taxpayer advocate said in an interview with The Daily Signal.  Citizens for the Republic, a nonprofit, grassroots lobbying group, posed the two questions in a July 15 letter to members of the House and Senate as the lawmakers left Washington for summer recess. The group calls on Congress to investigate the CEO and the chief technology officer of SolarCity, a renewable energy company based in San Mateo, California. The two SolarCity executives happen to be brothers; Lyndon and Peter Rive also happen to be first cousins to Elon Musk, chairman and co-founder of SolarCity.

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Sen. Hatch pressures feds for answers on stimulus program for green energy

  (This article was first published in The Hill on June 17, 2016)  Remember Solyndra?  That was the Silicon Valley-based, taxpayer-funded, green energy boondoggle that even President Obama won’t defend in public. The solar panel manufacturer received a $535 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Energy Department under Obama’s 2009 economic stimulus package. But less than two years later in the summer of 2011, Solyndra filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy leaving U.S. taxpayers on the hook. In a press conference, Obama sought to explain away  Solyndra as the result of bipartisan policy efforts that predated his presidency.  Let’s all agree that neither party is pristine on the question of taxpayer protection and sound energy policy, but let’s look at the facts. There are two loan guarantee programs that benefit renewable energy companies. The first was folded withinSection 1703 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 under President Bush. The second was created as part of Obama’s stimulus bill officially titled: the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Obama’s bill amended the 2005 energy bill to create section 1705 for “commercially viable technologies.” While Solyndra initially applied for loans under Section 1703, taxpayer funding for the now defunct solar panel manufacturer came from the stimulus package, which liberalized and loosened lending standards.  But let’s assume Obama is correct to say both parties are culpable. The question then becomes who is standing up now in the aftermath of Solyndra to scrutinize ongoing green energy schemes that still receive taxpayer funding while holding government agencies accountable.  The answer is Sen. Orin Hatch (R-Utah).  Earlier this month, Sen. Hatch did his due diligence as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee by applying all the right pressure points against federal officials who are charged with safeguarding the public interest.  Hatch sent letters to Department of Treasury, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) that asked several probing questions. The Utah Republican also set a firm deadline of June 30 to receive substantive answers from those agencies. That’s how you have to play it with recalcitrant federal bureaucrats.

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SunEdison Bankruptcy Three Times Bigger than Solyndra

(This op-ed was first published on Moring Consult's website on May 10, 2016)  Does this sound familiar? A shiny new solar company comes onto the scene, satisfying the cries of the solar panel-obsessed clean energy fanatics. Somewhere along the way, Barack Obama and Congress indiscriminately award the solar company millions in taxpayer funds.  A few years pass, and a slow but largely ignored descent into financial ruin ends in scandal.  You may be thinking of the famed Solyndra debacle.  Unfortunately for taxpayers, SunEdison, the self-proclaimed “largest green energy company,” filed for bankruptcy protection in late April. Even after becoming the 13th-most subsidized company in the United States, SunEdison misused taxpayer funds and lied, resulting in a recent Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.  SunEdison failed to deliver on its promises, neglecting to complete a series of energy projects it had previously agreed to undertake.  As SunEdison’s business plan unraveled, and even despite the trepidation with which clean energy companies come under close scrutiny, the U.S. Justice Department has recently begun investigating the company’s accounting practices.  Lucky for them, however, SunEdison found a willing cohort in the solar game long ago – the Obama Administration.  Nevertheless, even with the federal government supporting them with taxpayer funds, SunEdison could not manage even short-term success.  In other words, the company utterly wasted all your money, and to no avail.

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The Left Is Already Pushing The New Solar Jobs ‘Report’ As Good News. Don’t Buy It.

(This article first appeared on the Indpendent Journal Review website) When you’re on a mission to secure government favors needed to prop up costly, inefficient, taxpayer-funded boondoggles, you may be inclined to manipulate economic figures. You also might be inclined to convince the public and the news media that these figures flow from a detached, objective analysis when in fact they are produced by advocates with a vested interest in public policy choices.  This is clearly what happened in the latest annual Solar Jobs Census from the Solar Foundation, which concluded that the solar industry is contributing to “robust” U.S. job growth, and left-leaning outlets are already starting to champion the report as evidence that we the solar industry is booming and merits further investment.  Don’t buy it.  The Solar Energy Industries Association is the trade association tasked with promoting the development and expansion of solar power, predominately staffed by former solar company and trade association lobbyists with ties to government solar advocacy programs. So let’s all agree here that they are not exactly objective.  After reviewing the report’s key findings, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance found that it is laced with references to the large percentage growth in solar jobs that belie the actually figures, which are in reality quite anemic.

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Congress Should Have Let the Sun Go Down on Solar Subsidies

(This artcile first appeared on Ricochet.com)  And in one fell swoop through the 2,000-page omnibus spending bill, Congress again saddled American taxpayers with billions in handouts to the perpetually foolish and failing solar industry. In what is sure to foster the very same practices that led to the infamous Solyndra debacle, renewable energy handouts through the Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) are now guaranteed until at least 2022. In other words, don’t expect ITC or its cohorts to vanish any time soon.  While solar stocks soared after the news broke of Congress’s ill-advised extension of the ITC, taxpayers should remain skeptical of the industry’s so-called success. Despite gargantuan subsidies over the past five decades, the solar industry has yet to make a convincing case for itself. In fact, there is little evidence of success. The fact is that a coddled solar industry simply can’t make it on its own.  There are many egregious recent failures of the American solar policy. As part of the Obama Administration’s solar loan program through the Department of Energy (DOE), a Spain-based solar company has received $2.7 billion in taxpayer funds since 2010. Counted among President Obama’s favorite solar companies, Abengoa solar plants across the US have massively underperformed.  As an added insult to injury, Abengoa is now on the verge of bankruptcy. If the failing solar company does declare bankruptcy, it will be the biggest DOE loan program failure to date. The DOE has already seen at least three bankruptcies associated with these solar subsidies. Taxpayers have lost millions on account of this nonsensical loan program, with billions more to go. » Read More

 
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